The study — “Gun Culture in Action,” published last week in the journal Social Problems — states that “white men in economic distress find comfort in guns as a means to reestablish a sense of individual power and moral certitude.”
Researchers F. Carson Mencken and Paul Froese used data from the 2014 Baylor Religion Survey to create a “gun empowerment” scale.
The authors found that for white male respondents, “gun empowerment delivers a sense of meaning to life that neither economic status nor religious devotion currently provide” — fed by “popular narratives concerning American masculinity, freedom, heroism, power, and independence.”
In turn, this group sees guns as a solution to social problems, the study says, and feels that “citizens are sometimes justified in taking violent action against the government.”
The highly detailed study goes on to investigate classification and characteristics of gun owners, the gun culture’s effect on gun policy, the link between gun empowerment and religion and the role of the American “monomyth.”
Read the study here.